SPASH girls fall to Kimberly in Sectionals
For the second year in a row, the Stevens Point Area Senior High School (SPASH) girls basketball team had its season come to an end with a loss to Kimberly in the Sectional Semifinals.
Coming off a win over Chippewa Falls in the Regional Finals, the Panthers fell behind sixth-ranked Kimberly (22-3) early and were unable to recover, as they lost 69-50 in a WIAA Division 1 Sectional Semifinal at Appleton East Thursday, Feb. 28, to finish 18-7 overall.
Fifth-seeded SPASH started the week with a Regional Final at fourth-seeded Chippewa Falls Tuesday, Feb. 26, after Chippewa Falls won 87-64 at home over the Panthers Feb. 9.
SPASH went into halftime Tuesday with a 28-23 lead, then outscored Chippewa Falls 38-28 in the second half to win 66-51, as senior guard Madisyn Rogan had 21 points and four assists, and senior Rachel Lummis and Kaylee Hintz each scored eight points.
Meanwhile, junior forward Leah Earnest finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds to take over as the Panthers’ all-time leading scorer (1,359), as she passed Maggie Negaard (1,346).
“The girls played great,” said SPASH girls basketball head coach Kraig Terpstra. “We answered every run they made with big shots.
“What a great win to go on the road and beat a great team to win a chance to keep advancing in the tournament,” he said.
The win sent SPASH to the Sectional Semifinals to take on top-seeded Kimberly, which won 73-53 over the Panthers in the Sectional Semifinals last season.
The game Thursday night was tied 2-2 early, when Kimberly scored the next 20 points to build a 22-2 lead.
SPASH was down 37-12 with 2:54 to go in the first half, while Kimberly hit its eighth three-pointer of the first half in the closing seconds to take a 40-12 lead into halftime.
Kimberly extended its lead to 51-20 in the second half, when the Panthers went on 13-0 run to pull within 51-33 midway through the half.
SPASH extended the run to 24-6 to pull within 57-46 on a three-point play from Earnest with six minutes remaining, but Kimberly went on to close out a 69-50 win to move on to the Sectional Final against seventh-seeded Wausau West, which knocked off third-seeded Appleton East 81-69 in a Sectional Semifinal Thursday.
Earnest scored 24 of her 30 points in the second half and pulled down 12 rebounds against Kimberly, and Rogan added seven points to lead SPASH, which overcame a 1-3 start this season with wins in 14 of its next 15 games, on the way to claiming the Wisconsin Valley Conference Title with an 11-1 record and bringing home a Regional Title this season.